Customer Journey Mapping

Over the past few months, the FCC and NTIA have recommended filing dates for bulk challenges to the National Broadband Map, which is updated twice yearly. But stakeholders hadn’t seen similar guidance from either agency about individual challenges.

Telecompetitor asked the FCC about this and, based on what a spokesperson told us, individual challenges could be addressed more quickly than bulk challenges – at least when it comes to availability challenges. Details about that later in this post. First, some definitions.

Bulk challenges can only be filed by states, service providers and certain other entities that can include multiple challenges in a single filing. An individual challenge is filed through the interactive National Broadband Map by clicking on a specific location and entering certain details.

Challenges can be made to location data or to availability data. Location challenges would involve whether the latitude and longitude for a location are correct, if the location is broadband serviceable, if locations are missing, etc. Availability challenges involve whether a service provider offers service at a location at the speed indicated.

Although any type of challenge can be filed at any time, the NTIA and FCC have advised stakeholders of dates by which bulk challenges should be filed in order for them to be adjudicated in time to impact the next version of the map, which the FCC updates twice yearly.

What about individual challenges?

Individual Availability Challenges

The FCC spokesperson said aggregate information about how many availability or location challenges the commission had received from individuals was not available when Telecompetitor asked about that recently.

“It is important to note that the data changes by the day as challenges are filed and the FCC works through them,” the spokesperson said.

Regarding the timing of availability challenges from individuals, the spokesperson noted that after a preliminary review by commission staff, fixed availability challenges are sent to providers, usually within only a few days. Providers then have 60 days to either concede the challenge (in which case the provider’s availability at challenged locations will be removed from the map) or to provide evidence to dispute the challenge.

“If the provider disputes the challenge, it then has 60 days to work with the challenger to resolve the dispute,” the spokesperson said. “We expect that most challenges will be resolved during these initial phases, but if not, the FCC will review the evidence to make a determination of whether the map will continue to show that the provider has availability at the challenged location.”

The results of availability challenges are reflected on “a rolling basis as they are resolved,” the spokesperson said.

Although the spokesperson did not answer our question asking the filing date associated with the most recent availability challenges that had been adjudicated, the timeline outlined above suggests that an individual would have had to make the challenge at least 60 days and possibly more than 120 days in advance of the next broadband map update expected in May or June in order for the resolution of the challenge to be reflected on that version of the map.

Potentially, that’s less time than NTIA expected the FCC to take for bulk challenges. Late last year, NTIA advised stakeholders to file bulk challenges by January 13 in order to have them adjudicated in time to be reflected on the version of the map that is expected in May or June.

Individual Location Challenges

As the FCC spokesperson confirmed, the location database is updated just twice a year.

The spokesperson noted that CostQuest, the company that developed the location database, is assisting the commission in reviewing location challenges submitted by individuals and by bulk challengers.

“This review includes the information submitted in the challenge as well as the underlying source data that was used to create the points that display on the map in order to confirm, for example, that there is a broadband serviceable location footprint at the challenged location,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson did not answer a question about when individuals would have had to file location challenges in order for the results of the challenge to be reflected in the May/June version of the map or the one expected near the end of the year.

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